Stratford Town 2-1 Banbury United
Unbeaten run ended on Boxing Day
Banbury's eight-match unbeaten run came to an end with this disappointing defeat. Despite having plenty of chances to get something from the game, it was a resolute Stratford side who celebrated a continuation of their own fine run of form.
Fielding an unchanged side Banbury found themselves behind after only three minutes. A harshly awarded free kick on the left was well delivered by Will Grocott and Chris Cox headed home untroubled by defenders.
However, Banbury responded well to the early setback and more of the game now took place in the Stratford half. Ricky Johnson just couldn't get above a teasing Greg Kaziboni cross and headed over and a Giorgio Rasulo shot from twenty yards brought out a good save from Stratford keeper Sarkic. Later he did well to tip over a great Ravi Shamsi free kick whipped in from the right hand side. Stratford were still dangerous on the break and Agboola did well to keep hold of a low Cox cross from the left. Half-time arrived with just the early goal separating the teams.
Within five minutes of the restart Banbury were level. They were awarded a free kick in a central position just outside the area. Shamsi stepped up and curled a shot over the wall and to the left of a motionless Sarkic for a fantastic equaliser.
Banbury looked in control after this boost but were unable to carve out any clear-cut chances and were made to pay for this on 66 minutes, Shane Benjamin shot from the left and Agboola did well to save but could not do more than set up an easy finish for Wilson Carvahlo from close range to give Stratford the lead again.
Shamsi did well to dispossess Williams in the home team's penalty area but his first shot was blocked and then he fired over when others might have been better placed. Some hesitancy in the Banbury midfield allowed Fry to burst through but Agboola prevented the deficit increasing. Kaziboni saw Sarkic turn away a shot then shortly after appeared to have set up the equaliser. He escaped down the right and sent a low cross into sub John Mills whose first time shot from five yards out somehow cleared the bar.
Stratford managed the latter stages of the game well but Mills still had one more chance, latching onto a through ball but, under pressure from a defender, his shot lacked the power to beat Sarkic. The final whistle quickly followed and with it disappointment for the fantastic Banbury following in a crowd of 406.
Stratford: 1. Matija Sarkic, 2. Chris Cox (12. Claudio Dias 45), 3. Cody Fisher, 4. James Fry (C), 5. Jamie McAteer, 6. Jordan Williams, 7. Lewis Wilson, 8. Ross Oulton, (13. Jarrell Hylton 89), 9. Shane Benjamin, 10. Will Grocott, 11. Wilson Carvalho (14. Shawn Richards 82).
Subs not used: 15. Ross Etheridge.
Banbury: 1. Emmanuel Agboola, 3. Matt Taylor, 4. George Nash, 5. Charlie Wise, 6. Ravi Shamsi (Sub 17. Harry Whitehead, 82’), 9. Ricky Johnson, 10. Steve Diggin (Sub 13. John Mills 72’), 13. Amer Awadh (Sub 11. Mark Bell, 71’), 15. Eddie Odhiambo, 16. Greg Kaziboni, 18. Giorgio Rasulo.
Subs not used: 8. Edmund Hottor 20. Matt Timms
Attendance – 406
Man of the Match as selected by Puritans Radio – Ravi Shamsi